Traveling to Antarctica requires effort, time, and money. But there are good reasons people would go to such great lengths to travel to this remote continent. It has incredibly stunning landscapes and is home to seals, penguins, and whales, including limitless seabirds. If you are a family of wildlife lovers and want your next adventure to be in a unique place, you should visit Antarctica. And if you’re wondering what to see there, here are the most amazing destinations to visit in Antarctica with the family.
Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest and windiest place on earth, with 98 percent of its land covered with ice. Wondering what to do in Antarctica? You can try adventure activities like the polar plunge, kayaking, zodiac cruising, whale watching, etc, apart from watching the colony of penguins.
The best time to visit Antarctica is during the summer months, which fall between the months of November and March. It is during these months that you can enjoy 24 hours of daylight, in addition to less harsh weather, and wildlife sightings are at their best.
Here are some ideas on where to visit in Antarctica, places you don’t want to miss include a Penguin Post Office and the southernmost Russian Orthodox church in the whole world.
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The South Shetland Islands
After crossing the notorious Drake Passage on your way to Antarctica, the South Shetland Islands are the first place you will land coming from Patagonia. These are a group of twenty different islands, including King George and Livingston. First reached in 1819, they have become one of the most incredible destinations to visit Antarctica, home to Chilean and Argentinian research bases.
Teeming with wildlife, the South Shetland Islands are a fascinating place to explore, where you could stumble upon several species of seals relaxing on land and a colony of penguins. Did you know that Antarctica has 6 types of penguins: Emperor, Chinstrap, Adelie, Gentoo, Rockhopper, and Macaroni? Head to the island of King George, where you’ll find an abundance of Adelie and Chinstrap penguins.
On King George Island, is the southernmost Russian Orthodox church in the whole world. Trinity Church was built by the Russians and then transported here in the mid-1990s. You can find two Russian priests here all through the year. It is one of the eight churches on the continent and one of the places to visit in Antarctica!
The South Shetland Islands are mainly mountainous, and over 80% are glaciated. Its highest elevation is Mount Foster on Smith Island, at 2,105 meters. The first recorded sighting of the islands is of William Smith, a British sailor whose ship got blown off-course during his expedition in Cape Horn in 1819. After that, seal hunters frequented the islands to hunt fur seals.
The Antarctic Peninsula
Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula is one of those family adventures you’ll remember for the rest of your lives. It’s an 800-mile stretch of land and ice stretching from the Antarctic continent into South America. As soon as you arrive, you will be in awe of the staggering beauty of the Antarctic – from snow-covered mountains to giant glaciers and icebergs, not to mention fascinating wildlife.
Everyone who dreams of exploring Antarctica begins in the Antarctic Peninsula, a mountainous and ice-covered peninsula. It includes the Bransfield Strait, which separates the Antarctic Peninsula from the South Shetland Islands and Tierra del Fuego, South America’s southernmost tip, located about 1,000 km away from the other side of the Drake Passage.
Your adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula can also mean witnessing humpback and minke whales up close and gazing upon giant icebergs of every conceivable shape and size. Boasting a diversity of wilderness vistas, it is a haven for nature and wildlife lovers. Visit Danco Island to observe penguin colonies and marvel at the sight of gigantic glaciers floating along Neko Harbor.
The Great White Desert
Dubbed the “Great White Desert,” Antarctica is a truly fascinating destination luring every adventurous traveler, including families seeking a one-of-a-kind experience. One of the things to look forward to on your visit is seeing Antarctica’s Emperor penguins, perfect for families with kids. Your kids will be in awe at these quirky penguins, the only animal that can dwell on open ice during the winter. They can withstand blizzards, even winds blowing up to 200 km per hour and thrive in temperatures as low as -60°C.
While there have been several sightings of Emperor penguins in various locations in the white desert, Snow Hill Island is the most popular area for seeing Emperor penguins in Antarctica. According to biologists, there is a potential population of 10,000 emperor penguins on the island.
Aside from being home to abundant Emperor penguins, Snow Hill Island is also renowned for having the harshest polar climates imaginable. The area is mostly snow and ice, covering a stretch of land about 33 km long and 12 km wide off the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The island is remote and hard to reach, making it more attractive to families of adventurers.
The Falkland Islands
Located about 400 miles off the southeast coast of South America, the Falkland Islands consist of over 700 islands with a stunning landscape of tall mountain peaks, flat plains, sandy beaches, and a rugged coastline. Its highest point is Mount Usborne, which sits on East Falkland.
Boasting a natural wonder of spectacular landscapes and breathtaking vistas, not to mention fascinating wildlife, the Falkland Islands are among the most amazing destinations to visit Antarctica with the family, especially those who want to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
One of the best things to do in the Falkland Islands is to soak up its incredible landscape. Arrive with your family in style on a small aircraft and enjoy a personal meet and greet at the airstrip. Falklanders are renowned for their hospitality, where you will be treated to hearty homecooked meals as soon as you arrive.
Wildlife encounters in the Falkland Islands are fascinating. As you explore the islands with your loved ones, keep your eyes peeled on a penguin colony, although it’s likely that they will come towards you. You will also encounter different bird species, including dark-faced ground tyrants. Observe the majestic elephant seals or the albatross taking flight across the islands.
Penguin Post Office in Port Lockroy on Goudier Island
Port Lockroy is home to a museum and science base, but it is most known for the world’s southern post office, known as the Penguin Post Office. When visiting Antarctica, you can go to this post office to send a postcard to your friends and family abroad. Imagine the thrill of getting a postcard all the way from Antarctica.
Port Lockroy is a former Antarctic base located along a scenic bay on Goudier Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula. French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot discovered the bay after which the facility is named during his 1903―1905 expedition. He named Port Lockroy after the politician who helped finance his journey. This site is managed by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and is also home to a bunch of gentoo penguins.
Lying in the Southern Ocean, South Georgia Island is one of those places you should see on your Antarctica trip. It’s halfway between the coast of Argentina and the Antarctic Peninsula. While South Georgia is not technically part of Antarctica, it’s worth a stop during your adventure to this remote continent.
South Georgia is close to the Falkland Islands, about 800 miles away. It’s one of the world’s most isolated islands, only accessible by ship, with no runway or airstrip. Therefore, if you plan to visit South Georgia, you must be willing to spend at least two days at sea.
Due to its remote location, South Georgia is not a popular tourist destination. However, families who want to venture off the beaten path during their Antarctica expedition can take advantage of the opportunity to visit this incredible island. It’s home to countless penguins and seals and has some of the world’s densest marine ecosystems.
If you are dreaming of a family trip, I hope this post helps with planning the attractions you want to visit and the things to do while you are in Antarctica.
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